Thursday, June 24, 2010

Angel: Barbary Coast #3

Several months ago, I was asked to do a cover for Angel: Barbary Coast #3 at the last moment, because the regular cover artist was unable to get his image in on time.

Days before, I remembered having a conversation with Sam Weber, and he noted that a lot of times, tight deadlines lead to simpler and more powerful images than what we might come up with on a longer deadline.

Barbary Coast takes place in pre-earthquake San Francisco's Chinatown, so I wanted to make that come through in the design. The first element of which was the border, which is simple and reminiscent of the type of mouldings you might see in Chinatown. Another was the color design, which I thought had to be a red and black duo tone, similar to the type of color printing that was most common around the turn of the last century.

After working up the pencil drawing, I felt that over-all the composition was strong, but it seemed like a lot of the story elements, such as the Chinatown rooftops and extra traces of the dragon in the background weren't quite working. That's when I remembered my conversation with Sam, and I realized that conceptually it was probably better off simpler -- not every cover should be a movie poster montage.

The final drawing was done on toned paper with India ink and gouache, in an attempt to save even more time after bringing it into the computer.

This entire cover was done in about a day and a half from start to finish, and fortunately turned out pretty good.

I'm enjoying my cover work, and while I think it's over-all pretty strong, I still haven't quite hit my stride with it.

Thanks for reading,


Angel: Barbary Coast #3 9x12" signed print, $25 + shipping

Angel: Barbary Coast #3 8.5x11" original graphite drawing on paper

Angel: Barbary Coast #3 11x14" original ink & gouache drawing

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Sketching and Sketchbooks

Here are some pages from some recent sketchbooks, and a few from my days in art school.

While I think that sketchbooks are key in fostering new ideas and creativity, there's a danger to developing artists who spend too much time working in them.

Years ago, I noticed that when I was pouring forth all my energy into the pages, it was my finished art that suffered. Not that my finished work was bad -- but it was clear which forum was more favored of the two.

If you're the type of artist who loves to work in your sketchbook, but can't seem to get your actual artwork to go anywhere, you might want to consider limiting your time spent in them.

Don't get me wrong -- keeping a sketchbook is, in my opinion, essential to developing as an artist. However, I think they are best kept private. They're for your eyes only, like a diary of your thoughts, feelings, and ideas. Ideally, they should lead to bigger and better things. It should be a place where you are allowed to "play" artistically. I think of my sketchbook as sort of petri dish of ideas. 99% of it doesn't come to anything, but that's the point.

Those little moments where you're playing around, exploring your creativity, asking "What do I like?" is, in my opinion, the purpose of the sketchbook. It's a place for you to let go of what you think other people will like, or what you think is "good," or even what you think you like. It should be organic, evolving, and should never try to be something.

If you want your best art to be seen, you should do it outside of the bound media.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Spirit Magazine - Chill

This is an inappropriate time of year to be posting a snow scene, so I hope you'll forgive me.

"The Big Chill," by Kathleen George, is an emotional short story about an estranged husband and wife. It opens when the main character, Jake, comes home to realize that a transient has wandered into his living room while he was away.

For the composition, I wanted to keep Jake as anonymous as possible. There are several reasons for this, but one in particular is that I wanted the race of the main character not to be obvious, so there would be a better chance of the reader relating to Jake (of course, if such details were explained in the story, that would be a different matter altogether).

The couple's estrangement and the transient guest both come as a surprise as the story unfolds, so I wanted to preserve those qualities while setting the stage for the reader's curiosity.

I've done several 1/2 page illustrations for Kevin de Miranda of Spirit Magazine, the in-flight publication for Southwest Airlines this year, and have been pretty happy with how they've all come out. They're trying out fiction in the magazine for the first time, and luckily, Kevin's been really enthusiastic about the work I've been doing, inspiring me to better work by showing my sketches in the layouts, which makes for a more collaborative effort.

For this one, I wanted to experiment with a different line quality, so I drew the "inks" with a wax crayon (China Marker) on acetate. I was going for an "animation" feel to the line quality -- i.e. 101 Dalmations -- but I'm not so sure it made that much of a difference in the final result. It was definitely a fun challenge keeping the tip of the pencil sharp, though. The tip of the wax pencil tends to break if it has too fine of a point.

Fortunately, when I was starting this piece, New York was hit with a two-day blizzard. For those of you who aren't in a place where it snows, the timing was lucky because a day or two after a fresh snowfall, everything usually turns brown and slushy--I wanted to draw it as white and fluffy. So, I walked around the neighborhood snapping pictures that I thought would come in handy as reference.

In other news, I've sold out of the Molly Grue prints from my last post, but still have some different prints left over, which I'll be featuring on here from time to time.

9x12" Dark Knight prints are available during the month of June for $25 + shipping, and if you also pick up a zine, postcards, or another print, I'll throw in an original sketch or drawing from around the studio. I've been getting some really kind emails from the folks who have ordered both, which is why I've decided to keep going with the offer.

The Dark Knight Print

Also available, the original 5x7" ink, graphite, watercolor & acrylic drawing for $500 + shipping. Originally published in the New Yorker, 2008.

The Dark Knight Original Art

Have a great week,